In a star-studded field of Modifieds that visited Martinsville Speedway in the fall of 2000, veteran Reggie Ruggiero grabbed his fourth NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour victory in Goody’s Body Pain 200.
In typical Martinsville fashion, it was not without drama, controversy and more than a few damaged race cars and hurt feelings.
It was Ted Christopher, who led 34 laps and appeared to be cruising to the victory before a late-race caution allowed Ruggiero one last shot at the win.
The winning pass occurred with nine laps to go, when Ruggiero dove under Christopher for the lead in turn one. The two made contact, and Christopher spun into the wall and out of the race.
“Look at The Reg, trying to get on the inside of Christopher.”
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) March 26, 2021
The win was the second of the season for Ruggiero and the 41st of his career.
Christopher wound up 19th.
Coming into the penultimate race of the 2000 season, Ruggiero and Jerry Marquis were in the midst of a fierce championship battle. Both drivers were in search of their first Tour championship. Marquis was in his second full-time season on the Tour. Ruggiero, after finishing second in points six times prior, was making yet another run at the title.
Marquis had won the week prior at Stafford, retaking the point lead in the process. He was ahead of Ruggiero by just 18 points heading into Martinsville.
Along with Marquis and Ruggiero in the field that day were Tony Hirschman, Ted Christopher, Rick Fuller, and Jamie Tomaino, all of whom were Tour champions. Joining them were fellow Modified stars John Blewett III, Tom Baldwin, Ed Flemke Jr, and Tim Connelly. Making his second Tour start was a 24-year-old Burt Myers.
The 200-lap race saw six lead changes between five different drivers.
Ruggiero likely never would have gotten to Christopher’s back bumper, if it weren’t for contact between Marquis and Ruggiero. Marquis was trying to find a way under the slower Ruggiero when he clipped the inside curb and spun himself.
Despite a late-race spin, Marquis was able to rally up to second by the checkered flag. He and Ruggiero headed to the season-finale at Thompson separated by a mere eight points.
While Ruggiero won the race, it would be Marquis who won the championship, wrapping up the title with a fifth-place finish two weeks later at Thompson with a scant 36-point cushion. It would mark the seventh time that Ruggiero finished as the championship runner-up.